These beans are a "top secret" recipe among many pitmasters. We set out to create our own recipe for sweet, spicy, smoky beans and found a mug of strong black coffee gives the beans a swift kick in the pants.
Why This Recipe Works
Most barbecue joints serve ladlefuls of smoky, deep-flavored Cowboy Beans alongside the slabs of ribs and mounds of pulled pork. We wanted to make those creamy textured, saucy beans at home to accompany our own barbecue. To get there, we used dried pinto or navy beans. Canned beans turned mushy long before the sauce’s flavors blended. The beans may be soaked overnight or “quick soaked"—boiled for five minutes, then allowed to sit for one hour before draining and proceeding with the recipe. We found that bacon was a convenient substitute for smoky barbecued meat. We blended mustard, barbecue sauce, and brown sugar for a sweet but spicy, deep flavor—a fair amount of garlic and onion helped, too. The secret ingredient in our Cowboy Beans recipe is coffee. The roasted, slightly bitter flavor tied all the ingredients together.